It isn´t all about work here in Peru. In fact, our first full week contained plenty of sightseeing as we eased ourselves into being in Peru, being together as a group, acclimatizing to the altitude, and becoming accustomed to the Pumamarca school in general. We spent the last two days in the Sacred Valley, which is a fertile valley that was a place of tremendous agricultural development for the Incas. We started our trip through the Valle Sagrado (as it is called in Spanish) with a stop in Chinchero, a small town that has some breathtaking Inca terraces, each level of which was used to grow something different according to what would thive on each terrace. You can still find shards of Inca pottery in some places—in fact, Michael found an extraordinary piece, complete with original Incan artwork. After Chinchero, we visited the town of Ollantaytambo, where the Incas used the terraces that loom over the town to grow many varieties of corn. In fact, the town itself was laid out in the shape of a corn cob, much in the way that the original Cuzco was built in the shape of a puma.
On our second day in the Sacred Valley, we went to Pisac, which was once an Incan citadel perched atop a mountain overlooking the valley below. At the top is an ancient Incan sundial (another Temple of the Sun), as knowledge of the astronomy was critical to the running of the Incan empire. It takes about 90 minutes to get to the top of Pisac—most of which is a gradual (but sometimes quite steep) climb upon a trail that zigzags to the top and is very narrow in some places. Descending on the other side is another 90 minutes down an even steeper trail with Inca stairs cut right into the rock. I can´t decide which was harder—going up or coming down—but whichever it was, it was made more difficult by a bout of food poisoning. Oh yes—none of my trips abroad is complete without the obligatory case of food poisoning. Zita and I both came down with it, most likely from something we ate at lunch. As I write this entry——a day after our return from Pisac—I´ve wasted a perfectly gorgeous Saturday doing nothing but sleeping and updating this journal. Oh well, better now than while trekking on the Inca trail, which thankfully is still two weeks away.